New Amsterdam Singers Present COMFORT AND JOY at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 12/7 & 9


The New Amsterdam Singers, led by Clara Longstreth, will open its 45th season with a program entitled Comfort and Joy, featuring James MacMillan's Missa Brevis, the New York premieres of Judith Shatin's The God of Glory and Sheena Phillips's Two Carols, and works by Bach, Brahms, Victoria, Schütz, Randall Thompson, Abbie Betinis, and others. The concerts will take place tonight, December 7, 2012, at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday, December 9, at 4:00 p.m. at Immanuel Lutheran Church, 122 East 88th Street (at Lexington Avenue).

James MacMillan (b.1959), who is known for his striking sacred choral music, wrote his Missa Brevis when he was 17, but it was only released for publication 30 years later, in 2007. The work is imbued with the style of the Renaissance and Baroque works that MacMillan was singing in his school choir, as well as music by Benjamin Britten and Kenneth Leighton, with whom he studied composition. The pre-eminent Scottish composer of his generation, MacMillan attracted attention with the acclaimed BBC Proms premiere of The Confession of Isobel Gowdie (1990), which later was named the 1993 Gramophone Contemporary Music Record of the Year Award. Other works include his percussion concerto, Veni, Veni, Emmanuel, premiered by Evelyn Glennie in 1992; Seven Last Words from the Cross for chorus and string orchestra; a cello concerto for Mstislav Rostropovich; Quickening for The Hilliard Ensemble; and A Scotch Bestiary, commissioned to inaugurate the new organ at Disney Hall.

Judith Shatin (b.1949) is an American composer and sound artist whose recent projects include commissions from the Cassatt Quartet, the Peninsula Women's Chorus, and the Scottish Voices, as well as an orchestral consortium commission for Jefferson, In His Own Words for narrator and orchestra. Other works include Tower of the Eight Winds for violin and piano; Singing the Blue Ridge, for mezzo-soprano, baritone, orchestra, and the calls of wild animals; and For the Birds, for amplified cello and electronics from processed birdsong. Her music has been featured at festivals including Aspen, BAM Next Wave, Grand Teton, Havana in Spring, Moscow Autumn, Seal Bay, Ukraine, Soundways (St. Petersburg) and West Cork. She is currently CWilliam R. Kenan, Jr. Professor at the University of Virginia,

Sheena Phillips (b.1958), a native of the UK, is a composer, singer, and choral conductor. She first studied at Cambridge University, and later founded the Rudsambee Company of Singers in Edinburgh, a group known for its musical diversity. Ms. Phillips lives in Princeton, New Jersey, where she works chiefly as a composer and arranger. Her composing interests lean toward the folk and jazz idioms, and she receives commissions from a wide range of choirs on both sides of the Atlantic.

Abbie Betinis (b.1980) composed Mary and Gabriel on a commission from the Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester, Minnesota, and it was premiered in December 2006. The work, which is scored for chorus and percussion, is set to a poem by the English poet Rupert Brooks (1887-1915), and gives an unusual amount of emotion to Mary in an annunciation scene. This is the fifth consecutive year that the New Amsterdam Singers has programmed a work by the Minnesota-based, prize-winning composer.

The New Amsterdam Singers (NAS) was founded in 1968 by Clara Longstreth. A recent issue of The New Yorker called Ms. Longstreth "one of the more imaginative choral programmers around" and the New Amsterdam Singers "a superb amateur group." The New York Times described the chorus's June 2012 concert as "a varied and beautifully performed a cappella program." NAS has performed with the New York Philharmonic under Leonard Bernstein; American Russian Youth Orchestra at Carnegie Hall and at Tanglewood's Ozawa Hall under Leon Botstein; Concordia Orchestra and Anonymous Four in Richard Einhorn's Voices of Light with Marin Alsop at Avery Fisher Hall; and with the Limón Dance Company in Kodály's Missa Brevis. In 2010 the chorus sang concerts in Cuba and at a Holiday Open House at the White House.

For further information call (212) 568-5948 or go online to Tickets are available at the door for $25, $15 for senior and $10 for students. Tickets are available in advance for $20 online at, by phone (212) 568-5948, or by mail (New Amsterdam Singers, P. O. Box 373, Cathedral Station, New York, NY 10025).

J.S. Bach Ich lasse dich nicht
James Bassi Quem pastores laudavere
Abbie Betinis Mary and Gabriel
Johannes Brahms Lass dich nur nichts nicht dauren
James MacMillan Missa brevis
Sheena Phillips Two Carols (New York premiere)
Carl Rütti Wach auf
Heinrich Schütz Ein Kind is uns geboren
Die mit Tränen säen
Judith Shatin The God of Glory (New York premiere)
Randall Thompson Antiphon
Tomás Luis de Victoria Regina caeli